The New York Times’ Mark Bittman poses the interesting question in yesterday’s column, “Could Industrially Raised Meat Be Illegal?” Bittman pontificates that if the EPA has classified greenhouse gases as a human health hazard “as the EPA has declared, and the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act authorizes strict regulatory action on substances if there’s a reasonable basis to conclude that there’s an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, and industrially raised livestock causes an estimated 18 percent of greenhouse gas, could there be a legal case for tougher regulation of animal production?” Interesting thought.
A round of applause for Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein for pointing out last week the undeniable fact that meat production is a major contributor to global warming, and that consumers can make a difference by cutting out their meat consumption just one day a week. How big a difference in greenhouse gases reduction it would make in the United States has long been a topic of debate, and something I’ve wanted to clarify for quite a while. Before I explain why, I want to make it clear that there is more than enough evidence that shows reducing meat consumption nationwide would lead to dramatic improvements in environmental degradation, widespread public and personal health risks, animal welfare and environmental and social justice issues.
First off, I’m pleased to see that mainstream media outlets are finally increasing their coverage of food systems’ effects on climate change. Believe it or not, it’s taken a while for the news gatekeepers to catch on. Last year Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s research and policy director Roni Neff published a paper in the journal of Public Health Nutrition that found U.S. newspaper coverage did not reflect the increasingly solid evidence of climate change effects due to current food systems. Read More >